The fourth wiseman
As we “amble” past Christmas and delve into the frosty month of January, it’s natural to feel a little down. Gone are the blinking lights and good will and peace on earth for all people. Only to be replaced by freezing temperatures, icy roads and long dark days! Wow! We really do need something to look forward to which might lift our spirits! Good thing we have a plethora of stories to share and I have one which fits nicely with our Epiphany Season to come.
Fits in nicely in a “Wise Man” kinda way. It’s a great reminder that caring and giving are more than a one day a year tradition. So join with me as we travel a long ago road.....
There is an old legend of a 4th Wiseman named Artaban. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. And so, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price.
However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Because he missed the caravan, and he can’t cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip.
He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures.
He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way.
After 33 years, Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light. He arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery.
He is then struck in the head by a falling roof tile and is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good through charitable works. A voice tells him “Truly I say unto you, Whatever you have done for the least of Mine.. You have done for Me”. Artaban then dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His journey had ended.
His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man had found his King.
Maybe January is the perfect time to reflect on the King we all seek.
And as you reflect and travel and seek, keep an eye out for those you may encounter, who just might need a little help and good news in their life.
Now that is what makes us “Wise men and Wise women” who serve a King who in turn... Serves Us! May you find the King you seek as He provides a treasure of great worth!
A New Years blessing for joy, good will and peace to you.
Bob Stone is pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Pocatello.